THE Bureau of Immigration (BI) on Saturday morning, intercepted three human trafficking victims at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3. The three female victims, ages 46, 31 and 51, attempted to depart on board a Jetstar flight to Singapore.
Officers of BI Immigration Protection and Border Enforcement Section (I-PROBES) shared that the three initially claimed to be high school friends going on a vacation.
They reportedly gave inconsistent statements, which prompted the primary immigration officer to refer the trio for secondary inspection. Further scrutiny of their documents revealed suspicious substance on a passport page, indicating tampering. It was later found out that they were holding an employment visa in Malta, illegally detached from their passport.
“This modus of lifting visas from passport pages to evade immigration checks is done by big time syndicates who use special chemicals to carefully remove the visa,” said BI Commissioner Tansingco. “This was not done by small time recruiters, but by big time syndicates who operate by giving our kababayans false promises,” he added.
It was revealed that the trio started their application in 2017, and paid a total of almost half a million pesos for their visas.
They received their documentation the same morning in a restaurant in Baclaran, where they were instructed to pose as tourists to Singapore while waiting for their tickets to Malta. They were promised work as room attendants in a hotel in the European country.
Their case was forwarded to the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) for filing of charges against their recruiter.
“This is a clear case of trafficking,” said Tansingco. “These are the type of trafficking cases that we handle every day that people do not see. Trafficking is real, and trafficking is here. Let us not resort to saying yes to these syndicates in our desire to work abroad,” he added.